BCA president Grant King said voters deserved to see policies with detail from both sides in the campaign ahead.
“An idea put on the table without detail is basically useless – it doesn’t inform the community about their true choices,” Mr King said.
“You can put detail around ideas. And that’s what we expect from our political leadership, of any persuasion. If they’re going to throw something out there, they should give the community some detail and some sense of how it can be implemented.”
The BCA report sets out a policy “to-do list” including better infrastructure planning, steps to encourage people into technical and higher education and a new “investment guarantee” to encourage investment if the Parliament continues to block company tax cuts.
The report estimates that a worker earning $75,000 today would expect his or her average real income to reach $160,000 over the next 36 years, but that the gains were at risk from slower growth.
The potential income gain is $40,000 higher if the economy grew by 3.5 per cent, compared to the projections in the government’s own intergenerational report, the business group said.
BCA chief Jennifer Westacott said Australia would struggle to improve fairness if it ended up with a low-growth economy.
A growth rate of 2.6 per cent would see the economy expand from $2 trillion in gross domestic production to $3.9 trillion by 2048, the new report says.
Lifting that growth rate to 3.5 per cent through higher productivity would expand the economy to $5.1 trillion.
Ms Westacott said the business group wanted action on climate change but needed more detail from both sides, including from Labor on the cost for manufacturers and exporters on the permits they would need for their carbon emissions.
“We want a price signal. We want a trajectory that takes us to being the most carbon-efficient economy in the world. We want that to drive technological change,” she said.
“But we want to make sure we design any sort of scheme in a way that manages that transition so that we can actually get something to stick.
“Our question constantly is this: ‘Where is the detail of this? How will this be done? How will costs be borne across the sectors?'”
The lesson from the past, she said, was for both major parties to be up-front with voters about their plans and to offer policy detail so business and the community were not taken by surprise later.
“What I’m fearful of is that we’ve had a decade of false starts on this and a decade of lost opportunity and, I think, a decade of lost community confidence,” she said.
The BCA also noted that businesses were forecast to pay $96 billion in company tax this year, up from $86 billion last year, contributing one in every five dollars of commonwealth revenue.
David Crowe is Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.